Children of Agent Orange


No one can hold back the tears when seeing the heads turning round unconsciously, the bandy arms managing to push the spoon of food into the mouths with awful difficulty … Yet they still keep smiling, singing in their great innocence, at the presence of some visitors, craving for something beautiful.”  

—Vuong Mo, Vietnam News Agency

Agent Orange brings to mind images of frail/crazy war vets from a bygone era.  While its stated purpose was to clear brush and trees for a clearer view of the enemy, its legacy has been far more insidious and persistent.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Agent Orange veterans may receive compensation for the following health problems: 

*Parkinson’s disease

*Type II diabetes


*Cancers of the lung, prostate, bones, lymph nodes and blood

Nothing to shake a stick at.

But the most horrifying Agent Orange health effects can be seen in the children of Vietnamese and American war vets.  Agent Orange birth defects like spina bifida are the tip of the ice berg.  To get the full picture, you must walk the halls of an orphanage or child’s hospital in Vietnam.  There, you’ll see the tragic effects of chemical warfare firsthand–an image you won’t see on the nightly news.

The following photos are graphic and disturbing, which is why you should see them. 

Incidentally, Agent Orange itself was not the cause of these health problems.  That honor belongs to a dioxin contaminant known as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD).  The “Rainbow Herbicides,” manufactured largely by Dow and Monsanto, came in an array of toxic varieties, including Agents Blue, Pink, Green and “Super Orange”.  Between 1962 and 1971, approximately 20,000,000 gallons were sprayed on the unsuspecting soldiers and civilians in Vietnam.  Dioxin contamination has also happened on American soil, forcing an evacuation of Times Beach, Missouri in 1983.

Sweet dreams. 

(For more on this story, check out the Al Jazeera’s Children of Agent Orange – People & Power)

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3 Responses to Children of Agent Orange

  1. Jan Banning says:

    L.s. I think it is a fine idea to pay attention to the miserable consequences of Agent Orange for Vietnamese children. But I am not very happy with the choice of first posting a couple of More or less sensationalist photos, followed immediately by this remark: “(For more, check out photographer Jan Banning’s gallery: Agent Orange: Children of the White Mist)”. It suggests that I also took those photos shown here – and I would never photograph these children in this way. Please change the wording here.
    Best, Jan Banning

    • I apologize if it came across that way. In no way did I intend to insinuate that those were your pictures. I’ll remove your name and website from this article.

      Again, sorry for the misunderstanding!

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